Colin Powell, in a lengthy interview with Fareed Zakaria on CNN, questioned whether the Republican Party had a future if it continued listening to and taking its cues from right wing radio host Rush Limbaugh. Powell said that figures such as Limbaugh appeal to Republicans' lesser instincts, suggesting that's not the kind of party that the GOP wants to be.
Limbaugh responded to Powell today on his radio show, dismissing the criticism as without merit. Limbaugh believes that the Republican Party hasn't been listening to him over the last six years, as evidenced by its selection of John McCain as the Party's 2008 presidential nominee.
Limbaugh also called Powell's thinking "incoherent" and accused him of being a "turncoat" for supporting Obama. Limbaugh states that the main lesson to be drawn from this is that Powell is a Washingtonian who doesn't care who's in power as long as he's in close proximity, and that Powell is seeking to be "loved and adored by the media."
Powell's not a Republican. McCain's not a Republican. These guys are not even mavericks. They are Washingtonians. Washingtonians have their own culture and their own desires, and it is to matter. They don't care who's in power, they just want to be closely associated with whoever is. That's the name of the game and they want press adulation. They want to be loved and adored by the media, they want fawning treatment, they want to be thought of as something special, unique, dignified and so forth, and that's the Washington establishment. These guys are Washingtonians.
More excerpts from Limbaugh's comments today are below, and the full transcript is here.
I think Powell's premise -- and I understand what's going on -- I think Powell's premise is all wrong. The Republican Party needs to stop listening to me. Basically, what that means is the Republican Party's gotta throw you overboard; the Republican Party can't win as long as it is defined by people like you and me, those of you in this audience. The simple fact of the matter is, folks, what makes this funny to me is that the Republican Party's not listened to me in the last two years. And you might even say in matters of policy and so forth, the Republican Party hasn't been listening to me for the last six years. And you might even say that the Republican Party is in the situation it's in precisely because of the people like Colin Powell and John McCain and others who have devised this new definition and identity of the party which is responsible for electing Democrats all over this country...
...Colin Powell, ladies and gentlemen, insists that conservatives and Republicans support candidates who will appeal to minorities like I guess McCain who led the effort for amnesty. He insists that conservatives and Republicans move to the center like McCain, who calls himself a maverick for doing so. General Powell insists that conservatives and Republicans provide an open tent to different ideas and views, like I guess McCain, who repeatedly trashed Republicans and made nice with Democrats. I mean, their tent's big, they just don't want us in it. John McCain is and was Colin Powell's ideal candidate. All these moderates, Bill Weld, all these moderates that crossed the aisle and voted for Obama, they got their ideal candidate, and they got their ideal campaign in McCain. Once McCain was nominated as the Republican candidate, largely by independents and Democrats voting in Republican primaries, Colin Powell waited 'til the last minute, when it would do the most damage to McCain and the Republicans and endorsed Obama. And when I said it was largely about race, that's what set 'em all off, you're not supposed to say these kinds of things. This is supposed to go unspoken.
So if we try to understand Powell's thinking, which is difficult since it's incoherent, we should have all voted for McCain in the primaries, and once he was nominated, we should have voted for Obama for president. That's what we should have all done, if you listen to what Powell said on CNN yesterday. There's something interesting -- and Snerdley picked up on this -- he said that Powell in the CNN interview is talking to Republican leaders about tossing me out, when I'm not in. (laughing) This remains to me to be the funny thing here. It would be one thing if Republicans were listening to me and going down in flames, but they're not, and they haven't for the longest time. So Powell is talking to Republican leaders about tossing me out of the party, and people should stop listening to me and helping Democrats with any legislation that might be aimed at taming talk radio. This is what Snerdley thinks he meant by virtue of what he said in that interview. He did say he's talking to the leaders -- leaders of what? The Republican Party? He's getting together to talk with the leaders about me? When was the last time I was on a ballot? When was the last time I raised money? When was the last time I wrote a plank in the party platform?
...What's going on here with this Colin Powell thing is that the Washington establishment -- Powell's not a Republican. McCain's not a Republican. These guys are not even mavericks. They are Washingtonians. Washingtonians have their own culture and their own desires, and it is to matter. They don't care who's in power, they just want to be closely associated with whoever is. That's the name of the game and they want press adulation. They want to be loved and adored by the media, they want fawning treatment, they want to be thought of as something special, unique, dignified and so forth, and that's the Washington establishment...
...I can't think of a single occasion where Secretary Powell stepped up to the plate for the Republican Party or the conservative movement. I think of many times when he has not done so or even worse.